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NZ To Sign Illegal Cultural Objects Control Deal

NZ to sign up to control illegal traffic in cultural heritage objects

Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark announced today that New Zealand intends joining two international conventions designed to prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural heritage objects

The government has approved the tabling in Parliament of two international conventions designed to prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural heritage objects.

The two conventions are the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.

Helen Clark said the conventions will enable New Zealand to secure the return from overseas of important cultural heritage objects, and will help to facilitate the return to other countries of their heritage which is found to have been imported illegally into New Zealand.

“The illicit trade in cultural objects is a significant international problem often associated with organised crime, the looting of archaeological sites and the theft of items from museums and private owners.

“Important objects have been illegally exported from New Zealand in the past and items of significant heritage value continue to be at risk. New Zealand is also likely to be a destination state and a possible transit point for items illegally imported from overseas.”

“The best means of preventing this illegal trade is by international co-operation established through these two conventions. As a good international citizen, New Zealand also has an interest in respecting and protecting the cultural heritage of other countries” Helen Clark said.

“Amendments to legislation will be needed for New Zealand to accede to these conventions, and these are being addressed through the Antiquities Amendment Bill due to be introduced to Parliament later this year,” Helen Clark said.

The two conventions will be subject to the Parliamentary treaty examination process and will be referred to a Select Committee for consideration. The Committee will report back to the House and may make recommendations to government concerning the treaties.

“I look forward to the Committee’s consideration of these two important conventions and will be interested in its response.” Helen Clark said.

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